Print 45 comment(s) - last by Silver2k7.. on May 10 at 11:05 AM

Current world market Ford Focus

Current North American Ford Focus

Ford Transit Connect
Ford goes its own way when it comes to efficient vehicles

It's been a tough year for the auto industry. Most major auto manufacturers have witnessed months of double-digit sales declines. Both General Motors and Chrysler took bailout money from the government to weather these harsh times while Ford said "no thanks" and decided to go it alone.

Since the bailout funds were initially handed out in December, Chrysler has filed for bankruptcy and GM appears to be nearing that point. Ford, on the other hand, appears to be moving ahead with returning to profitability and shifting its production lines to producing more fuel efficient vehicles.

Ford yesterday announced plans to invest $550 million in retooling its Michigan Assembly plant to produce the all-new Ford Focus and an accompanying battery-electric variant. The Michigan Assembly Plant currently produces Ford's behemoth body-on-frame SUVs: the Ford Expedition and the Lincoln Navigator.

In addition to the change at the Michigan Assembly Plant, Ford will also convert two other truck plant -- Cuautitlan Assembly in Mexico and Louisville Assembly -- to produce the subcompact Ford Fiesta and Focus-based compact vehicles.

"We're changing from a company focused mainly on trucks and SUVs to a company with a balanced product lineup that includes even more high-quality, fuel-efficient small cars, hybrids and all-electric vehicles," said Ford's Mark Fields. "As customers move to more fuel-efficient vehicles, we'll be there with more of the products they really want."

"The transformation of Michigan Assembly Plant embodies the larger transformation under way at Ford," added Ford President and CEO Alan Mulally. "This is about investing in modern, efficient and flexible American manufacturing. It is about fuel economy and the electrification of vehicles."

Like its Fiesta sibling, the new Ford Focus will truly be a global vehicle. The North American market will get the same Focus that sells in other parts of the world which isn't the case today -- the current NA Focus is based on a platform dating back to 1999, whereas other world markets got a fully revamped Focus in 2004.

While many auto enthusiasts will be happy to hear that North America will finally have a vehicle on par with the rest of the world, the big news will be with the battery-electric version of the Focus. According to Ford, the vehicle will feature an electric motor and a lithium-ion battery pack. The vehicle is being developed in conjunction with Magna International and will go into production in 2011 as a 2012 model year vehicle.

Ford also has plans to market a battery-electric version of its upcoming Transit Connect commercial vehicle, a next generation hybrid, and a next generation plug-in hybrid by 2012.

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Good to see
By FITCamaro on 5/7/2009 9:30:31 AM , Rating: 3
That they're bringing the Focus the rest of the world gets to the states. I remember seeing the world market focus in Casino Royale and was like "Damn. That looks good."

Now that GM is now officially Government Motors, I'm far less likely to buy cars from them when it comes time to get another one. Luckily that's likely years away.

RE: Good to see
By Spivonious on 5/7/2009 9:44:47 AM , Rating: 2
Totally agree. When I was in Europe on my honeymoon a couple years ago, I saw the new Focus and liked it so much that I took a photo of it. Imagine how disappointed I was when the new Focus was released in the US and it looked nothing like the European one.

Hopefully this also means we'll see the Focus RS.

Ford surviving in this economy is just further proof that when the government gets involved, bad things happen.

RE: Good to see
By BillyAZ1983 on 5/7/2009 2:52:48 PM , Rating: 2
Correct me if I am wrong fellas but wasn't the Ford Bond drove in Casino Royale, a fusion not a foucs?

I remember looking at a focus when I bought my fusion and what swayed me was the fact that Bond drove my car lol.

If they drove one in Quantum Of Solace I can see that, but I don't remember what they drove in that movie.

RE: Good to see
By Steve1981 on 5/7/2009 3:05:05 PM , Rating: 3
As far as I know, it was actually a Ford Mondeo.

RE: Good to see
By ArcliteHawaii on 5/8/2009 10:58:40 PM , Rating: 3
Ford surviving in this economy is just further proof that when the government gets involved, bad things happen.

The fact that Ford is weathering the storm and GM and Chrysler are not has nothing to do with the government. It has everything to do with the good choices and business practices that Ford made in the past several years, and the bad ones the others made.

This isn't rocket science. All you have to is read some energy related blogs or books to know that oil is running out and will be much more expensive in the future. I'm not even interested in energy or cars and have known about peak oil since 2005. Ford realized this and made their choices accordingly. GM and Chrysler chose to drink the kool-aid.

RE: Good to see
By Silver2k7 on 5/10/2009 11:05:40 AM , Rating: 2
Its strange that they have a fugly version for the US market.. why not use the one the would sell best, or are they not interessted in selling ??

RE: Good to see
By SublimeSimplicity on 5/7/2009 9:48:19 AM , Rating: 2
So if I'm to understand this correctly, the second gen Euro model came out in 2004 and the facelift that is pictured in the article came out in 2008.

The US model that is pictured in this article also came out in 2008.

Who on earth looks at sketches or clay models or whatever of those two vehicles and OKs additional R&D funds to build the US ugly duckling version?

RE: Good to see
By Aquila76 on 5/7/2009 10:59:18 AM , Rating: 2
I might actually buy one of those. I want a 4-door hatch / wagon for my next car, and this will make choosing even harder. I was weighing between the Mazda3 and Subaru WRX, now add this into the mix. Gonna be doing a lot of test drives, apparently.

RE: Good to see
By BillyAZ1983 on 5/7/2009 3:06:00 PM , Rating: 2
My best friend's bro bought a Mazdaspeed 3 and holy crap that thing is FAST. When the turbo kicks in, you really feel the car pull through the gears.

RE: Good to see
By FITCamaro on 5/7/2009 4:53:28 PM , Rating: 2
Modded they can be fast. Stock...meh.

RE: Good to see
By Daphault on 5/7/2009 6:42:05 PM , Rating: 2
Agreed. My stock MS3 is quick (I prefer the term "quick" to "fast") compared to most other vehicles for normal commuting, but I don't consider is all that quick. I guess its all relative to established perceptions. My heavily mod'ed STi... defiantly a lot quicker.

RE: Good to see
By cheetah2k on 5/7/2009 9:21:26 PM , Rating: 2
I have the MPS 3 in Australia, and with basic mods such as a Turbo Back exhaust, Cold air induction and Xede ecu piggyback, I managed to squeeze 206kw (274HP) and 430Nm torque at the wheels. They are darn fast modded, thats a fact.

There is also one particular MPS 3 in the US that has cracked the 400HP mark which is a major achievement. Now we just need to sort out the reliability issues with the 2.3ltr MZR motor, as they are starting to blow rods like hot cakes.

RE: Good to see
By Daphault on 5/7/2009 1:43:55 PM , Rating: 2
Yea, not only does Europe get better looking versions, but better performing versions. And it's been going on like this for a long time; the Escort RS Cosworth as an example. I simple don't understand why we get stuck with the ugly siblings. Does anyone find the US version to be a better looker?

RE: Good to see
By Steve1981 on 5/7/2009 1:51:42 PM , Rating: 2
I thought it was kind of odd that they sold the old Focus platform in the US, in direct competition with the Mazda 3 which used the Euro Focus/2nd generation platform.

RE: Good to see
By cheetah2k on 5/7/2009 9:25:53 PM , Rating: 2
Thats what happens when a company like Ford only owns +/-30% stake in another company (Mazda) and allows access to the parts bin and sharing of chassis design thru their respective agreements.

RE: Good to see
By Tsuwamono on 5/8/2009 8:51:59 PM , Rating: 1
Why? because they would be less likely to fail?

Thats pretty single minded. And since when does the government own GM? i dont remember seeing that? However I haven't had internet for the past week because i just moved into a new place so i could have missed that.

I find alot of americans think its either pure capitalism or its communism.. Thats a pretty big leap you know and there are light years between the two. Canada isn't communist and our banks are WATCHED by the government to make sure they dont do something like the sub prime shit that the american banks did.

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